Without much fanfare, Tesla has added a new battery option to its menu. The Model S 100D, currently listed at a base price of $92,500, offers an EPA-rated range of 335 miles on a full charge, making it, according to Autoblog, the longest-range consumer electric vehicle in the world. The range is 20 miles greater than that of the much more expensive P100D, and 41 miles more than the Model S 90D, which some observers expect to be phased out soon.
A similar 100 kWh option is also now available for the Model X SUV, with a rated range of 295 miles.
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By comparison, the ranges for a few less expensive electric vehicles include 238 miles for the $37,495 Chevy Bolt, 115 miles for the $30,000 Ford Focus Electric, and 107 miles for the $31,545 Nissan Leaf. Tesla’s own forthcoming Model 3 has promised a 215 mile range at a price of $35,000 (All prices before incentives).
Range is clearly a major point of competition in the emerging electric car market, and there has been continual debate about exactly what consumers want or need. Frustrated environmentalists have insisted for years that most households’ real driving habits make even shorter-range electric vehicles a sensible choice. But surveys of drivers' preferences have shown that the vast majority want a range of between 100 and 300 miles.
Tesla is now pushing the Model S' range beyond not just that of other electric cars, but of many gasoline-powered vehicles as well. Most U.S. cars have a 12-gallon gas tank, and average fuel economy for new U.S. vehicles for 2015 (the most recent data available) was 24.8 mpg. That means a typical brand-new gas-burner goes just under 300 miles on one tank.
Correction: This article previously stated that the price of a new Model S 100D was $98,300.